Located amidst the thick Deodar and Oak forest, Mahesh Khan is a Bird Lover’s Paradise.
The Forest Rest House (FRH) at Mahesh Khan is located near Bhowali on the Ramgarh-Mukhteshwar Road and is actually 5 kms inside a forested motorable road. On your way you will be surprised to find Shyamkhet Tea Gardens!
This place is hardly ever mentioned in Tourists books or guided by the Locals yet those who know how to travel the offbeat track or take the road less traveled find their way to this little forest heaven.
Mahesh Khan’s Forest Rest House was originally a bungalow built in the year 1911 and is still a modest looking structure still holding quiet well. The ridge where the Rest House is located is called ‘Tagore Top’ as this is the same place which was visited by Rabindranath Tagore in the year 1914 (a few months after the death of his wife) with his ailing daughter Renuka and son Samindranath and got inspired to write the globally acclaimed ‘Geetanjali’. And you can see the proof of his stay here in one othe old log books that were used for visitors. Interestingly, in was here in the forests of Mahesh Khan, Nainital that Jim Corbett killed his first ever Man-Eater Tiger.
Today too there is an abundance of wildlife in the thick forest Jungle surrounding the Forest Guest House and includes a regular spotting of Deer, Sambhar, Black Bear and even leopards along with numerous species of Birds. There are plenty of fresh water streams during the monsoons and that welcomes a lot of wildlife too.
No wonder then the Mahesh Khan is soon gaining popularity and attracts Photographers and Wildlife enthusiasts every year. After Kilbury and Pangot, Mahesh Khan is definitely making its marks on wildlife & adventure especially for an interesting ‘Bird watching’ experience.
Infact Mahesh Khan has tie ups with WWF, Wildlife Institute of India, Uttarakhand Council for Science and Technology, Jungle Lore Bird Lodge, Nature Science Initiative among other NGO’s and government enterprises and aims to expand the Bird-watching tourism.
For the past few years, the Eco-Tourism wing of the Forest Department of Uttarakhand conducts regular camps with an aim to generate awareness about birds amongst forest personnel and rural tourism practitioners and to develop bird watching skills.
This idea for an eco-camp was a brain child of Mr. Rajiv Bhartari (Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Environment) who is today one of India’s ‘Corbett Experts’ and a leading ecotourism experts and have implemented many of the suggestions of the National Wildlife Action Plan in Corbett. Learn More About HIM He is currently doing his PHD from University of Montana (College of Forestry and Conservation). He is the one who started first ever Bird-Watching camp in Uttarakhand and is a pioneer in conducting these monthly camps around the state of Uttarakhand at places like Kedarnath, Binsar, Sankri, Dodital, Pangot, Corbett and Dhanolti.
He values Nature-based tourism and wants people to gain knowledge of their environment and save it from further damage as well as impart values of forests, saving wildlife etc. You may connect with Rajiv Bhartari, CCF-Ecotourism. Tel/Fax: 0135-2669227 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Infact Uttarakhand hosted its 2nd Spring Bird Festival last year in 2015.
This 5 day event was a great interactive event where bird watchers and Bird photographers took part in guided bird tours at Pawalgarh, Kyari, Sitabani, Chhoti Haldwani and Chunakhan..
They also got a chance to meet each other, participate in Eco-tourism and Rural tourism activities and also enjoyed the cultural activities.
You can learn more about Camping Activities HERE
The place offers once in a while stumbled upon tourists an awesome place to stay in the shadows of the jungle at pocket-friendly prices yet offers you abundance in adventure activities including trekking and walking options. It’s a place where you simply live with nature and perfect for writing that novel you have been dreaming of!
Location: Nainital-Bhowali-Shyamkhet road (22 kms from Nainital)
Nearest ATM’s and Petrol/Diesel Stations are located at Bhowali and Bhimtal.
How to Reach Mahesh Khan Forest Rest House: Most Important is to carry your own rations and snacks this place is in the middle of wilderness and run by only a handful of people. So options would be less so it is recommended to stock up on daily groceries.
You need to book before hand via email and Phone call as it is a reserve forest area. Infact there is chained gate at Mahesh Khan Jungle Road and prior permission is needed for entry as this area comes under the Forest Department of Uttarakhand.
Situated on the forest’s ridge, the 100-year-old Forest Rest House offers 6 Bamboo Roofed Huts and a common Dining Hall. The place was renovated in 2008 and looks good.
Apart from visiting the usual towns of Nainital, Bhimtal, Sattal and Naukuchiatal and of course Mukteshwar (35 km), you can check these places for a fresher experience:
Kainchi Dham: located right at the two hairpin bends on the Bhowali-Almora route, Kaichi Dham is the famous pilgrimage spot that has been visited by Steve Jobs (Apple) and later by Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).
Kainchi Dham is essentially a Hanuman Temple built in the year 1964 and became popular later as the home & final resting place of Neem Karori Baba (1900-1973).
Ghorakhal: is a small village that means ‘a pond of water for Horses’. Ghorakhal or Ghodakhal is perched 2000 metres above sea level and is 4 kms from Bhowali and about 36 kms from Kathgodham. The temple area offers you a picturesque meadow kind of surrounding that is serene and is a perfect place for an ideal day picnic.
The Golu Devta Temple is situated here at Ghorakhal and is quite famous for its unique way of rituals. Devotees came here and write their wishes on a stamped paper and once the wishes get fulfilled they tie bells outside the temple. Hence the temple is also referred as the ‘Temple of Bells’ and the locals refer to it as the temple of Justice and worship the residing deity here – Lord Shiva as Golu Devta which they believed to his incarnation.
Please note that the main Golu Devta Temple is Chitai Temple located 4 km from the main gate of Binsar, Almora. Learn More
There is a fresh water stream that runs down close to the temple. You can reach it after a short trek.
The first Sainik School of Uttarakhand is also located here. This simple yet prestigious institution is known for imparting discipline along with education to kids and guides them to join the Armed Forces and other sectors throughout the country. Visit Website
And surprisingly at Ghorakhal also the Tea Gardens are spread across the fields and you can even purchase Tea directly from the factory outlet!
ARIES (Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences): This is a leading research institute of India that specializes is Astrophysics, Astronomy and Atmospheric Sciences. Located just 9 Kms from Nainital this place attracts many Astronomy lovers and the observatory is open for public during afternoons Mon-Friday. For night viewing (Full Moon days only) prior permission is needed.
Booking: To book connect with:
Divisional Forest Office DFO
Upper Danda, Tallital, Nainital
Uttarakhand. Tel: (05942) 236 718/469 or
Tel: 05942- 236790, 236718
write at email@example.com
Chief Conservator of Forests – Kumaon
Tel: 05942- 236218
Besides the Mahesh Khan Forest Rest House, there are other choices for stay at Kilbusry FRH, Kunjakharak FRH and Vinayak FRH that are all located within 20 Kms from Nainital.
Birds recently spotted here: Red-billed blue magpie, kingfishers, blue-throated and brown-headed barbets, lineated barbet, golden-throated barbet, crimson-fronted barbet, coppersmith Barbet plum-headed parakeet, slaty-headed Parakeet, chestnut bellied rock thrush, titmouse, babblers, jungle Owlet, fish eagle, pied woodpecker, brown-capped pygmy woodpecker, grey-capped pygmy woodpecker, brown-fronted woodpecker, stripe-breasted woodpecker, yellow-crowned woodpecker, rufous-bellied woodpecker, crimson-breasted woodpecker, Himalayan woodpecker, lesser yellownape woodpecker, greater yellow-naped woodpecker, streak-throated woodpecker, grey-headed woodpecker, scaly-bellied woodpecker, common flameback woodpecker, Indian tree pies, blue whistling-thrush, lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, crested serpent eagle, flycatchers, cheer pheasants, Kalij pheasant, Koklas pheasants, dollarbird, leaf birds, flowerpecker, purple sunbird, brown headed stork-billed kingfisher, stork-billed kingfisher, crested kingfisher, white-throated kingfisher, pied kingfisher, common kingfisher, blue-eared kingfisher, Himalayan kingfisher, Mrs. Gould’s sunbird, green-tailed sunbird, black-throated sunbird, black-breasted sunbird, Crimson sunbird, fire-tailed sunbird, thick-billed flowerpecker, plain-leaf flowerpecker, fire-breasted flowerpecker, russet Sparrow, rufous Babbler, black-headed Jay, scaly-breasted wren-Babbler, black-capped sibia, blue whistling thrush, finches, mountain hawk eagle, black eagle, eurasian jay, white-rumped needletail, black-headed jay, black-lored, black-throated tits, black bulbul, ashy-throated warblers, black-chinned babbler, rufous-breasted accentor, red-billed blue magpie, grey-winged blackbird, Eurasian griffon, common buzzard, black-chinned babbler, pink-browed rosefinch, common wood pigeon, slaty-headed parakeet, laughingthrush, chestnut-tailed minla, lemon-rumped warblers, and many more.